Singapore, 14th March 2010
There are two night time lighting attractions in Singapore that are rather unique in the world. One is the Formula 1 night race on which I shall report on later this year (in September), the other is the Singapore Night Safari. What better time than the weekend to enjoy this experience.
I know a little bit about this project as I was still working in Philips at the time when it was developed. The lighting designer (Simon Corder from the UK) developed the lighting concept together with Philips. The idea to create a night time zoo experience is quite challenging, as you would expect that the last thing the animals want at night is lighting. Reversely the first thing we as human need to see is light! So that seems pretty much at odds with each other.
The only (natural) light source that animals know at night is the moon so the team set off to develop a special light source with the intensity and color characteristics as close to that of the moon as possible. As moonlight comes from above, the light source location and beam direction had to come from there as well, which meant the lights had to be mounted on high poles. The moon has an obvious direct, but also diffuse, lighting effect which had to be recreated in the optics as well.
Having resolved the lighting part, the final challenge was to make sure the animals are out there to see at night when the public visits! The only sure way to get the animals is through feeding, so for more than a year animals were trained to get their food at locations (and times) specifically lit by the artificial moonlight. By the time the Night Safari opened the animals were used to be in the “moonlight” during visiting hours and the first night time zoo experience was born.